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FXjohn 08-17-04 11:56 AM

Recumbents faster?
had a receumbent blow me away yesterday at a slow cadence...he was flying.
Are they that much faster, or is it just me?

mtessmer 08-17-04 01:10 PM

Well, there is allot to say for the "engine" behind it but with the lower center of gravity and lower amount of wind resistance it's suppose to be a small percent more efficient and faster.

FXjohn 08-17-04 01:18 PM


Originally Posted by mtessmer
Well, there is allot to say for the "engine" behind it but with the lower center of gravity and lower amount of wind resistance it's suppose to be a small percent more efficient and faster.

This is true...It just looked like the leverage from sitting down was making it effortless.
Kind of like the difference between a standing squat and a seated leg press.

mtessmer 08-17-04 01:28 PM

You can push a bigger gear for that very reason you stated, but if you have bad knees I wouldn't recommend it.

Velo Dog 08-17-04 01:48 PM

You'll probably get him on the hills, though. I ride with a guy who occasionally uses a recumbent. On upright bikes, we're close to the same ability--he's a slightly better climber, but we're equal on the flat. When he takes his 'bent, he can motor away on the flats, presumably because he's lower and presents less frontal area, but I eat him up on the hills, where he has to push straight ahead and I can use gravity to push the pedals down.
We'd like to swap bikes and see what happens, but he's 5'8" and I'm 6'4", so no way....

bentcruiser 08-17-04 02:02 PM


Originally Posted by Velo Dog
On upright bikes, we're close to the same ability--he's a slightly better climber, but we're equal on the flat. When he takes his 'bent, he can motor away on the flats, presumably because he's lower and presents less frontal area, but I eat him up on the hills, where he has to push straight ahead and I can use gravity to push the pedals down

On the other hand, where I could not beat hardly anyone (including my own shadow) up a hill, I am passing people now.

bruceha_2000 08-17-04 07:18 PM


Originally Posted by Velo Dog
We'd like to swap bikes and see what happens, but he's 5'8" and I'm 6'4", so no way....

Have you checked? Many are pretty adjustable for various height riders.

funbun 08-17-04 08:05 PM

It's not about the bike ;)

bentcruiser 08-18-04 12:04 PM


Originally Posted by MERTON
why do i see so few aero fairings (or wahtver they are called) on recumbents? i'd think that those would be one of the first things to get for such a bike. even just a frontal one like the ez riders should help a lot i think.

I would say it is mainly a cost factor. Depending on the steering setup, a fairing can run from $200-$600.

Glasspacker 08-18-04 02:02 PM

My crew laughed at me when I showed up at beginning of Ragbrai 99 with a Rans Stratus. They stopped laughing after day 1. However, after 3 days of pushing tall gears and showing off, the outside area of both knees started hurting. They had the last laugh when I swapped (just for the ride) bikes halfway through. I think I should've trained more, and "spinned" in a lower gear with a higher cadence. The Stratus isn't known as a fast one but I sure was impressed. On rolling hills I barely downshifted, but obviously on a steep incline I lost all momentum. Back to the knees: It's been five years now of not riding and I'd like to get back into it. Just a little worried about them now as I turn 40 this year. I'm looking at a V2. Something about the feel of the LWB that sucks me into it.

lowracer1 08-18-04 09:52 PM

Yes the platform can be somewhat faster...........sometimes a whole lot faster.

I did a race with my tailfaired carbon lowracer a few weeks ago..... 106 miles in 4 hours 32 minutes solo.

Last week I won a race.........100 k in 2hours 32 minutes. This was also with a tailfaired carbon lowracer.

lowracer1 08-18-04 09:54 PM

Almost forgot........... the same 106 mile race, the winner in a full streamliner recumbent finished in a time of 3 hours 38 minutes.........non-stop

This was on a hilly course in a 72 lb bike.

Ken_in_Michigan 08-24-04 09:51 PM

I am 61 and overweight, and have been riding a bent for the last three years. :) I have had no problems with my knees nor the arthritus in my lower back since I went bent. You just have to remember to keep the cadance smooth and don't put too much presure on your knees. Instead of using all the power in your legs (and on a bent you can use more of the power in your legs than on a DF) use the gearing to find a point where you maintian you speed at as easy a cadance as you can. It is better to spin at a higher cadance than press so hard you blow out your knees.

Without a doubt a bent is faster on the level and especially on a downhill grade. That is the reason that they were outlawed by the bicycle racing federations after the first well designed bent entered races in the 1930s for having "an unfair advantage." The bicycle manufaturers had a vested interest in the DR "safety bikes" and the equipment to manufacture them. The real same is that bents are a far safer bike to ride and a bike that children find is easier to learn to ride, but since they can't be used in races like the Tour de France. Check out the Human Power Vehicle land speed records. You will find that the current record over a measured 300 meters without any assistance from other vehicles is over 81 mph. It was done at Battle Mountain Nevada on a bent with a fairing. No DF, even those specially built bikes used in the vellodrome at the olympics has ever been able to come close to the bent speed records. :D

funbun 08-25-04 05:05 AM

Ken's right. If the powers that be allowed 'bents. Lance would probably be riding something like this:

However, the big wigs put limits on bike geometry. The idea of limits is a good thing. Just look at Stock car racing vs Indy. In stock car you don't have to worry about being beaten by another car just another driver.

At least they should offer a separate recumbent class and even a handcycle class for the disabled. I like HPV type races because of the variety of different geometries. Le Tour de France everyone is bacicaly riding the same bike. It get's boring after a while just like NASCAR.

meb 08-26-04 11:06 PM


Originally Posted by MERTON
why a tail fairing and not a whole or front only fairing? and how does traffic treat ya on the road when yer that low?

Tailboxes are nearly as effective at reducing the wind resistance behind you as front fairings, and the lboxes don't block your cooling air.

lowracer1 08-27-04 05:05 PM

Actually, tail fairings are far more efficient at reducing drag. I'd take a rear fairing over a front fairing any day of the week.

capsicum 09-01-04 06:05 AM


Originally Posted by MERTON
why a tail fairing and not a whole or front only fairing? and how does traffic treat ya on the road when yer that low?

Most of the wind drag comes from the hole you make in the air sucking behind you, rather than pressure in front. Some does come from the front and other sources like boundery layer friction but a big part is that hole you leave, the smaller the hole the less drag.

As a side question I've seen the term DF bike posted by bent riders around the forums. What is DF?

Trsnrtr 09-01-04 06:12 AM

Diamond Frame

capsicum 09-04-04 02:55 AM

That seems a rather cost ineffective material to make a frame out of, good strength to weight ratio, but hard to machine. Where do you find diamonds big enough to make tubing anyway?

;) :D

Ken_in_Michigan 09-04-04 10:52 PM

The thing that always gets me about the DF bikes is that the official name for that design is "the safety bike"! Considering that if you have an accident with one of them you usually will go over the handle bars and land on your head and neck. That is how you can end up having to ride a wheel chair instead of a bike. On a recumbent if you have an accident the feet and legs are what are usually injured as you go into the accident feet first. All you need to do is be careful to avoid foot suck.

Remember never trust a Republican from Texas! They'll say anything to keep oil men in charge of the government and keep energy prices high. The only oil product that we use on our bikes is the oil used to make our tires and tubes.

funbun 09-05-04 08:29 PM

This is a little off topic. My opinion is that they should let oil prices soar to about $3.00 per gallon. In other words let gas prices scale with inflation. At some point this would force the U.S. to be less dependant on Middle East oil. Therre is plenty of oil in Alaska and Canada to last for many decades. There is even proof that oil pipeline help wildlife growth because pipeline are so warm compared to the cold climate.

Cadillac 09-06-04 08:25 AM

The term "safety bike" does not indicate that it is currently the most safe bike. Instead, it was a contrast from the Penny-Farthing (the bike with the huge front wheel and small back wheel). The PF was difficult to mount and ride and when you did get on and hit a pothole it threw you a long distance to the ground.

If you want a really good laugh, read Mark Twain's write-up of his attempts at learning to ride a PF.

The "safety bike" frame (i.e., DF frame) was much safer.

Cadillac 09-06-04 08:30 AM

Previously, I mentioned Mark Twain's account with the Penny-Farthing (also called the "high wheeler" or "Ordinary"). Here's his account:

I thought the matter over, and concluded I could do it. So I went down and bought a barrel of Pond's Extract and a bicycle. The Expert came home with me to instruct me. We chose the back yard, for the sake of privacy, and went to work.

Mine was not a full-grown bicycle, but only a colt -- a fifty-inch, with the pedals shortened up to forty-eight -- and skittish, like any other colt. The Expert explained the thing's points briefly, then he got on its back and rode around a little, to show me how easy it was to do. He said that the dismounting was perhaps the hardest thing to learn, and so we would leave that to the last. But he was in error there. He found, to his surprise and joy, that all that he needed to do was to get me on to the machine and stand out of the way; I could get off, myself. Although I was wholly inexperienced, I dismounted in the best time on record. He was on that side, shoving up the machine; we all came down with a crash, he at the bottom, I next, and the machine on top.

We examined the machine, but it was not in the least injured. This was hardly believable. Yet the Expert assured me that it was true; in fact, the examination proved it. I was partly to realize, then, how admirably these things are constructed. We applied some Pond's Extract, and resumed. The Expert got on the other side to shove up this time, but I dismounted on that side; so the result was as before.

The machine was not hurt. We oiled ourselves up again, and resumed. This time the Expert took up a sheltered position behind, but somehow or other we landed on him again.

He was full of surprised admiration; said it was abnormal. She was all right, not a scratch on her, not a timber started anywhere. I said it was wonderful, while we were greasing up, but he said that when I came to know these steel spider-webs I would realize that nothing but dynamite could cripple them. Then he limped out to position, and we resumed once more. This time the Expert took up the position of short-stop, and got a man to shove up behind. We got up a handsome speed, and presently traversed a brick, and I went out over the top of the tiller and landed, head down, on the instructor's back, and saw the machine fluttering in the air between me and the sun. It was well it came down on us, for that broke the fall, and it was not injured.

Five days later I got out and was carried down to the hospital, and found the Expert doing pretty fairly. In a few more days I was quite sound. I attribute this to my prudence in always dismounting on something soft. Some recommend a feather bed, but I think an Expert is better.

The Expert got out at last, brought four assistants with him. It was a good idea. These four held the graceful cobweb upright while I climbed into the saddle; then they formed in column and marched on either side of me while the Expert pushed behind; all hands assisted at the dismount.

The bicycle had what is called the "wabbles," and had them very badly. In order to keep my position, a good many things were required of me, and in every instance the thing required was against nature. Against nature, but not against the laws of nature. That is to say, that whatever the needed thing might be, my nature, habit, and breeding moved me to attempt it in one way, while some immutable and unsuspected law of physics required that it be done in just the other way. I perceived by this how radically and grotesquely wrong had been the lifelong education of my body and members. They were steeped in ignorance; they knew nothing - nothing which it could profit them to know. For instance, if I found myself falling to the right, I put the tiller hard down the other way, by a quite natural impulse, and so violated a law, and kept on going down. The law required the opposite thing - the big wheel must be turned in the direction in which you are falling. It is hard to believe this, when you are told it . And not merely hard to believe it, but impossible; it is opposed to all your notions. And it is just as hard to do it, after you do come to believe it. Believing it, and knowing by the most convincing proof that it is true, does not help it: you can't any more do it that you could before; you can neither force nor persuade yourself to do it at first. The intellect has to come to the front, now. It has to teach the limbs to discard their old education and adopt the new.

The steps of one's progress are distinctly marked. At the end of each lesson he knows he has acquired something, and he also knows what that something is, and likewise that it will stay with him. It is not like studying German, where you mull along, in a groping, uncertain way, for thirty years; and at last, just as you think you've got it, they spring the subjunctive on you, and there you are. No -- and I see now, plainly enough, that the great pity about the German language is, that you can't fall off it and hurt yourself. There is nothing like that feature to make you attend strictly to business. But I also see, by what I have learned of bicycling, that the right and only sure way to learn German is by the bicycling method. That is to say, take a grip on one villainy of it at a time, and learn it -- not ease up and shirk to the next, leaving that one half learned.

When you have reached the point in bicycling where you can balance the machine tolerably fairly and propel it and steer it, then comes your next task -- how to mount it. You do it in this way: you hop along behind it on your right foot, resting the other on the mounting-peg, and grasping the tiller with your hands. At the word, you rise on the peg, stiffen your left leg, hang your other one around in the air in a general and indefinite way, lean your stomach against the rear of the saddle, and then fall off, maybe on one side, maybe on the other; but you fall off. You get up and do it again; and once more; and then several times.

By this time you have learned to keep your balance; and also to steer without wrenching the tiller out by the roots (I say tiller because it is a tiller; "handle-bar" is a lamely descriptive phrase). So you steer along, straight ahead, a little while, then you rise forward, with a steady strain, bringing your right leg, and then your body, into the saddle, catch your breath, fetch a violent hitch this way and then that, and down you go again.

But you have ceased to mind the going down by this time; you are getting to light on one foot or the other with considerable certainty. Six more attempts and six more falls make you perfect. You land in the saddle comfortably, next time, and stay there -- that is, if you can be content to let your legs dangle, and leave the pedals alone a while; but if you grab at once for the pedals, you are gone again. You soon learn to wait a little and perfect your balance before reaching for the pedals; then the mounting-art is acquired, is complete, and a little practice will make it simple and easy to you, though spectators ought to keep off a rod or two to one side, along at first, if you have nothing against them.

And now you come to the voluntary dismount; you learned the other kind first of all. It is quite easy to tell one how to do the voluntary dismount; the words are few, the requirement simple, and apparently undifficult; let your left pedal go down till your left leg is nearly straight, turn your wheel to the left, and get off as you would from a horse. It certainly does sound exceedingly easy; but it isn't. I don't know why it isn't, but it isn't. Try as you may, you don't get down as you would from a horse, you get down as you would from a house afire. You make a spectacle of yourself every time.

During eight days I took a daily lesson of an hour and a half. At the end of this twelve working-hours' apprenticeship I was graduated -- in the rough. I was pronounced competent to paddle my own bicycle without outside help. It seems incredible, this celerity of acquirement. It takes considerably longer than that to learn horseback-riding in the rough.

Now it is true that I could have learned without a teacher, but it would have been risky for me, because of my natural clumsiness. The self-taught man seldom knows anything accurately, and he does not know a tenth as much as he could have known if he had worked under teachers; and, besides, he brags, and is the means of fooling other thoughtless people into going and doing as he himself had done. There are those who imagine that the unlucky accidents of life - life's "experiences" - are in some way useful to us. I wish I could find out how. I never knew one of them to happen twice. They always change off and swap around and catch you on your inexperienced side. If personal experience can be worth anything as an education, it wouldn't seem likely that you could trip Methuselah; and yet if that old person could come back here it is more than likely that one of the first things he would do would be to take hold of one of these electric wires and tie himself all up in a knot. Now the surer thing and the wiser thing would be for him to ask somebody whether it was a good thing to take hold of. But that would not suit him; he would be one of the self-taught kind that go by experience; he would want to examine for himself. And he would find, for his instruction, that the coiled patriarch shuns the electric wire; and it would be useful to him, too, and would leave his education in quite a complete and rounded-out condition, till he should come again, some day, and go to bouncing a dynamite-can around to find out what was in it.

But we wander from the point. However, get a teacher; it saves much time and Pond's Extract.

Before taking final leave of me, my instructor inquired concerning my physical strength, and I was able to inform him that I hadn't any. He said that that was a defect which would make up-hill wheeling pretty difficult for me at first; but he also said the bicycle would soon remove it. The contrast between his muscles and mine was quite marked. He wanted to test mine, so I offered my biceps -- which was my best. It almost made him smile. He said, "It is pulpy, and soft, and yielding, and rounded; it evades pressure, and glides from under the fingers; in the dark a body might think it was an oyster in a rag." Perhaps this made me look grieved, for he added, briskly: "Oh, that's all right; you needn't worry about that; in a little while you can't tell it from a petrified kidney. Just go right along with your practice; you're all right."

Then he left me, and I started out alone to seek adventures. You don't really have to seek them -- that is nothing but a phrase -- they come to you.

I chose a reposeful Sabbath-day sort of a back street which was about thirty yards wide between the curbstones. I knew it was not wide enough; still, I thought that by keeping strict watch and wasting no space unnecessarily I could crowd through.

Of course I had trouble mounting the machine, entirely on my own responsibility, with no encouraging moral support from the outside, no sympathetic instructor to say, "Good! now you're doing well -- good again -- don't hurry -- there, now, you're all right -- brace up, go ahead." In place of this I had some other support. This was a boy, who was perched on a gate-post munching a hunk of maple sugar.

He was full of interest and comment. The first time I failed and went down he said that if he was me he would dress up in pillows, that's what he would do. The next time I went down he advised me to go and learn to ride a tricycle first. The third time I collapsed he said he didn't believe I could stay on a horse-car. But next time I succeeded, and got clumsily under way in a weaving, tottering, uncertain fashion, and occupying pretty much all of the street. My slow and lumbering gait filled the boy to the chin with scorn, and he sung out, "My, but don't he rip along!" Then he got down from his post and loafed along the sidewalk, still observing and occasionally commenting. Presently he dropped into my wake and followed along behind. A little girl passed by, balancing a wash-board on her head, and giggled, and seemed about to make a remark, but the boy said, rebukingly, "Let him alone, he's going to a funeral."

I had been familiar with that street for years, and had always supposed it was a dead level; but it was not, as the bicycle now informed me, to my surprise. The bicycle, in the hands of a novice, is as alert and acute as a spirit-level in the detecting of delicate and vanishing shades of difference in these matters. It notices a rise where your untrained eye would not observe that one existed; it notices any decline which water will run down. I was toiling up a slight rise, but was not aware of it. It made me tug and pant and perspire; and still, labor as I might, the machine came almost to a standstill every little while. At such times the boy would say: "That's it! take a rest - there ain't no hurry. They can't hold the funeral without you."

Stones were a bother to me. Even the smallest ones gave me a panic when I went over them. I could hit any kind of a stone, no matter how small, if I tried to miss it; and of course at first I couldn't help trying to do that. It is but natural. It is part of the ass that is put in us all, for some inscrutable reason.

I was at the end of my course, at last, and it was necessary for me to round to. This is not a pleasant thing, when you undertake it for the first time on your own responsibility, and neither is it likely to succeed. Your confidence oozes away, you fill steadily up with nameless apprehensions, every fiber of you is tense with a watchful strain, you start a cautious and gradual curve, but your squirmy nerves are all full of electric anxieties, so the curve is quickly demoralized into a jerky and perilous zigzag; then suddenly the nickel-clad horse takes the bit in its mouth and goes slanting for the curbstone, defying all prayers and all your powers to change its mind -- your heart stands still, your breath hangs fire, your legs forget to work, straight on you go, and there are but a couple of feet between you and the curb now. And now is the desperate moment, the last chance to save yourself; of course all your instructions fly out of your head, and you whirl your wheel away from the curb instead of toward it, and so you go sprawling on that granite-bound inhospitable shore. That was my luck; that was my experience. I dragged myself out from under the indestructible bicycle and sat down on the curb to examine.

I started on the return trip. It was now that I saw a farmer's wagon poking along down toward me, loaded with cabbages. If I needed anything to perfect the precariousness of my steering, it was just that. The farmer was occupying the middle of the road with his wagon, leaving barely fourteen or fifteen yards of space on either side. I couldn't shout at him -- a beginner can't shout; if he opens his mouth he is gone; he must keep all his attention on his business. But in this grisly emergency, the boy came to the rescue, and for once I had to be grateful to him. He kept a sharp lookout on the swiftly varying impulses and inspirations of my bicycle, and shouted to the man accordingly:

"To the left! Turn to the left, or this jackass'll run over you!" The man started to do it. "No, to the right, to the right! Hold on! that won't do! -- to the left! -- to the right! -- to the left! -- right! left -- ri -- Stay where you are, or you're a goner!"

And just then I caught the off horse in the starboard and went down in a pile. I said, "Hang it! Couldn't you see I was coming?"

"Yes, I see you was coming, but I couldn't tell which way you was coming. Nobody could -- now, could they? You couldn't yourself -- now, could you? So what could I do?"

There was something in that, and so I had the magnanimity to say so. I said I was no doubt as much to blame as he was.

Within the next five days I achieved so much progress that the boy couldn't keep up with me. He had to go back to his gate-post, and content himself with watching me fall at long range.

There was a row of low stepping-stones across one end of the street, a measured yard apart. Even after I got so I could steer pretty fairly I was so afraid of those stones that I always hit them. They gave me the worst falls I ever got in that street, except those which I got from dogs. I have seen it stated that no expert is quick enough to run over a dog; that a dog is always able to skip out of his way. I think that that may be true; but I think that the reason he couldn't run over the dog was because he was trying to. I did not try to run over any dog. But I ran over every dog that came along. I think it makes a great deal of difference. If you try to run over the dog he knows how to calculate, but if you are trying to miss him he does not know how to calculate, and is liable to jump the wrong way every time. It was always so in my experience. Even when I could not hit a wagon I could hit a dog that came to see me practise. They all liked to see me practise, and they all came, for there was very little going on in our neighborhood to entertain a dog. It took time to learn to miss a dog, but I achieved even that.

I can steer as well as I want to, now, and I will catch that boy out one of these days and run over him if he doesn't reform.

Get a bicycle. You will not regret it, if you live.

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